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Equal Pay Opportunity Act

Employee Rights to Equal Pay and Opportunities

Washington State's Equal Pay Opportunity Act requires employers to provide equal pay and career advancement opportunities to their employees, regardless of gender. The act promotes fairness among workers through:

  • Equal pay. Employers must provide equal compensation to similarly employed workers, except for some specific reasons unrelated to gender.
  • Equal career advancement opportunities. Employers must not limit or provide career advancement opportunities based on gender.
  • Open wage discussions. Employers cannot stop employees from disclosing their wages with other workers or require agreements with employees that stop them from disclosing their wages.
  • Protection from discrimination, retaliation and firing. Employers cannot take any negative action against an employee for discussing wages, filing a complaint or exercising other rights under the Equal Pay Opportunity Act.

Acceptable reasons for a difference in pay

  • Education, training or experience.
  • Seniority.
  • Merit.
  • Measuring earnings by production quantity or quality.
  • Regional difference in compensation levels.

Other reasons for a difference in pay that may be acceptable

  • Job-related factors consistent with business need.
  • Reasons not based on gender.
  • Local minimum wage laws.

Please note
: A difference in pay cannot be based on an employee's wage or salary history.

Filing a complaint

As an employee, you may file a complaint if your employer has:

  • Provided unequal compensation or career advancement opportunities based on your gender.
  • Prohibited you from discussing your wages with other employees.
  • Taken any negative action against you for exercising your rights under the Equal Pay Opportunity Act.


For more information

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